Into College Then Learning Korean
Aug 11, 2002
By Lee, Hyun-Sang
In general, Korean parents find it important to
send their children to Korean language schools - that is, until
their children get into high school. For Korean parents, high school
often marks the point in their children's lives when learning Korean
becomes a secondary goal to getting into a prestigious university.
According to several Korean language schools, enrollment
for high school age children drops dramatically - almost half the
number of middle school age students - as children are encouraged
to spend more time on improving their grades, getting involved in
extracurricular activities, and preparing their college applications.
Mr. Yoon, a parent of a high school child in Long
Island, said, "It is hard to send my children to study Korean on
Saturday mornings because most high school extracurricular or volunteer
activities are held on Saturday.
According to the Association of New York Korean
Education, there were 641 students enrolled in 107 Korean language
school programs geared toward high school students. This number
was 58.3 percent of the number of students (1099) enrolled in the
Korean language schools for middle school students.
As a result of the decreasing number of high school
students enrolled in these language schools, many of these language
classes are disappearing. The National Association for Korean School
Northeast Chapters pointed out that amongst its approximately 120
member schools in the tri-state area, about half of those schools
do not have a language program for high school students.
One high school principal pointed out that parents
resisted sending their high school-aged children to these language
schools because the parents preferred sending their children to
SAT prep institutes.
Byung-Nam Yoon, president of the National Association
for Korean School Northeast Chapters, argued, "The level of Korean
taught in middle school is enough Korean for use in daily life,
but falls short of meeting the level of ability required to use
Korean in a professional setting."
He added, "There are cases where high school students
give up learning Korean because there are no classes available for
them. We have to look for ways to continue to provide classes for
those who want to continue learning by possibly coordinating with
another Korean language school that provides courses for high school-aged
Translated from Korean by JooYeon Lee
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